Helen Culling of Spire Norwich Hospital catches up with Consultant vascular surgeon Mr Wissam Al- Jundi to discuss the treatment of varicose veins.

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With the summer sunshine finally upon us and the winter woollies safely tucked away the cool summer dresses and shorts are seen up and down the high street. However, not everyone is confident enough to bear their legs due to unsightly varicose veins. So I caught up with Mr Al-Jundi to find out more…

What are varicose veins?

“Varicose veins are a common problem affecting at least 20% of the adult population in the UK. They occur when small valves inside the veins stop functioning correctly. Rather than blood flowing effortlessly back towards the heart, the blood stagnates within the veins causing aching, tiredness and discomfort.

“At first, problem veins may not be visible but symptoms may occur. Sometimes patches of blue thread veins may be the earliest signs of an underlying problem. Eventually, the abnormal veins may become swollen, enlarged and varicose. This condition can be embarrassing and painful.

“Varicose veins are usually blue or dark purple in colour and may also be lumpy or twisted in appearance. While any vein can be affected, varicose veins most commonly develop in the legs and feet – predominantly because standing and walking can put pressure on the veins in the lower body.”

Why should varicose veins be treated?

“In the developing stages, varicose veins and thread veins may be primarily a cosmetic problem. However, if ignored, the condition can deteriorate and a variety of debilitating complications can occur such as leg swelling, venous eczema, pigmentation of the skin around the ankles and venous ulcers.

“Occasionally, veins can burst causing bleeding, or the blood within the veins can clot leading to the painful condition of phlebitis (inflammation of the vein), or even deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a vein). People who use air travel for work or holidays may be at increased risk particularly if those flights are long haul.”

What is involved in treatment and is it painful?

“Fortunately, modern, minimally invasive treatments can often be performed under local anaesthetic as a walk-in, walk-out procedure. This leaves the patient with minimal pain following the procedure with practically immediate return to normal activity.”

What treatments are available? 

“There are many modern treatments, from foam sclerotherapy (an injection into the vein causing it to seal off and disappear over time), endovenous laser (a procedure where a laser is fed down the vein to close the faulty vein leaving minimal scarring) , VNUS (a procedure where a tiny catheter is inserted into the vein that generates  heat via radiofrequency to shrink and close the vein). The national institute of clinical excellence (NICE) recommends endovenous ablation with laser or radiofrequency as the first line treatment for varicose veins depending on the underlying cause.”

Is this treatment just for women?

“Certainly not, varicose veins can affect men just as much as it can affect women.  Men tend to cover their legs up more, so the problem may be hidden away and ignored; with some men only seeking treatment when their veins become very large and complications start to occur.

“It is important to target varicose veins before they become a significant problem, as without medical treatment varicose veins always deteriorate, sometimes suddenly; and complications may have a major impact on daily activities.”

Mr Al-Jundi concludes, “If you’re suffering from uncomfortable and unsightly varicose veins and wish to consider your options for treatment, arrange an appointment with your family doctor or call 01603 255 614 for a no obligation consultation at Spire Norwich Hospital. These consultations offer assessment of your condition and the opportunity to discuss potential treatment.”

For further information or to book a private consultation with Mr Wissam Al-Jundi call 01603 255 614. Further details regarding Mr Al- Jundi can be found on his consultant profiles at www.spirenorwich.com

All surgery carries an element of risk and the content of this page is provided for general information only.  It should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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